Why am I here? I would much rather be at home.
I could ask myself this same question anywhere, whether I’m wandering around the
University Parks or shopping for new sneakers at Westgate. Yet the idea doesn’t appear except in the smallest corner of my mind, when I’m standing on the sidelines of an Oxford nightclub right before 2 AM.
Maybe I’m choosing to resist these thoughts as part of an intense effort to be social, to break away from my truly shy behavior that was fostered by my early life as an only child of divorced parents. I do want to be here, in this crowded place on Park End Street, but not completely.
I guess that my main motivation for joining the nightlife is to avoid FOMO: the fear of missing out. My free time of the day was spent playing Mass Effect, bringing upon a kind of happiness that can only be found in pretending to be the commander of a spaceship.
Instead I should be seizing the opportunity to indulge in alcohol here; I am still considered underage in America until the end of next June. But will I really be having fun? Social media have enabled us to portray our worst situations as the best parts of our day. So terribly dishonest yet so easy to do.
When I walk into the club, awkwardly passing the bouncers and into the dark hallways to find my music room of choice, I already have a few drinks in my system to start the bliss early and save money.
My friends and I at my university back in the United States developed a simple sobriety test. If you could attend a lecture and pay attention in your current condition, you clearly weren’t drunk enough and should mix yourself a drink ASAP. I failed that test without a second thought. Yet I was always coherent enough to understand everything that was happening around me.
If I were completely sober, I wouldn’t have enjoyed feeling the stickiness of spilled alcohol on the bottom of my sneakers. I had traded high heels for comfort only a few weeks ago. The blaring music and laughter among jumbled sentences would have bothered me too.
This moment has me in another state of mind. High energy is everywhere in the air and I naturally want to be a part of it. The problem was not reaching that emotional high, but to maintain it. Crashing is easy in these times since there is nowhere else to go but down.
People of all ages and nationalities are singing in unison, whether they really know the lyrics or not. These are songs that I would not spare a moment to hear in the privacy of my bedroom, because they lack lyrics substance, but it feels right to hear in this moment.
Men are wearing their striped shirt and casual black jeans, dressed as if they’re going to university rather than dancing the night away. Women, on the other hand, are breaking out a new part of their closets. Their lacy tank tops, wrap dresses, and bright eyeshadow would look strange in other contexts. They are all crowding together around the bar, as if they’re trying to sneak a peek of their favorite celebrities, with quid notes and empty glasses in their hands.
Even the photo booth finds this kind of intensity, where people are shoving themselves inside to take cute snapshots with their friends, either to hang in their dorm rooms or keep in their wallets. While the intoxication would fade in a few hours, the picture would last forever.
The exits do not prove to be any better. Men and women are herding together, showing memes to one another while waiting for their friends at the coat check. Others are pushing past, without a single care in the world, holding cigarettes in their fingers for a smoke break.
Minutes feel like hours, reaching a point where they have truly added up to a few hours gone. Dancing has become a chore, a physical effort rather than a simple sway to the rhythm, and the thought of my bed sounds like a piece of heaven. I can’t help but notice the lingering hungry in my stomach, feeling no guilt in eating McDonald’s as part of my post-club ritual. I reason to myself that falling asleep while intoxicated on an empty stomach is a fool’s decision. And the agreement of my friends does not create any resistant.